ASSAf originally constituted its Standing Committee on Science for Poverty Alleviation (CSfPA) in 2006 to contribute to one of the five new national missions outlined in South Africa’s Research and Development (R&D) Strategy.
Over the years, a number of forum-type studies on selected topics relevant to the challenge of poverty alleviation were conducted.
Proceedings reports that were produced were “Science-based Improvements of Rural/Subsistence Agriculture” (2007) and “Local and Economic Development in Small Towns, Housing Delivery and Impact on the Environment” (2009).
Regular meetings of the committee ceased from 2008, but in late-2014, the committee was revitalised and renamed the Committee on Science for the Reduction of Poverty and Inequality.
The members of the committee are:
Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (AMASA)
The challenges faced by Africa due to extreme poverty were scrutinised at the 12th Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (AMASA) jointly hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC). The theme of the meeting was Poverty Reduction.
Poverty eradication has been identified as the first Sustainable Development Goal as it remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Globally, more than 800 million people are lacking access to adequate food, clean drinking water and sanitation.
Although economic growth in countries such as China and India has contributed to the alleviation of poverty, progress has been slow in regions such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The latter accounts for 80 per cent of people living in extreme poverty. Women are also more likely to be subjected to poverty than men due to unequal access to paid work, education and property. Africa faces the additional threats of climate change, conflict and food insecurity.
Measuring Deprivation in order to promote Human Development in South Africa
Poverty reduction is a critical factor outlined in both the Millennium Developmental Goals 2015 (MDGs) and the National Developmental Plan (NDP) – Vision 2030. In order for South Africa to make progress in this regard, definitions of the different forms of deprivation and human development and indicators for their measurement are needed to monitor and evaluate any programme implemented to reduce poverty. A workshop on Measuring Deprivation in order to promote Human Development in South Africa was held at Misty Hills, Muldersdrift, Gauteng on 9 & 10 June 2015. The workshop aimed to outline the significance of establishing and using definitions and measures that are applicable to and useful in the South African context. Click here for the Proceeding Report.
Policymakers booklet: Social Protection on Africa (2016)
Representatives of 22 African science academies gathered to deliberate on poverty reduction on the continent. The challenges faced by Africa due to extreme poverty will be scrutinised at the 12th Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (AMASA) to be jointly hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC). Poverty eradication has been identified as the first Sustainable Development Goal as it remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Access the booklet here.
Statement: Ethical and sustainable delivery of social grants (2017)
The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), a body made up of some of the country’s foremost scholars, calls on government to find long-term, ethical and sustainable solutions to address the governance failures in the delivery of social grants. The research published by our Members in peer-assessed journals has consistently demonstrated the substantial contribution of social grants to the social and economic development of South Africa’s population. Access the Statement here.
Workshop: Poverty, inequality and global climate change: Connecting the Discussions (2019)
The workshop was a response to an urgent need to bring together communities of scientists who are exploring matters of poverty, inequality and climate change. While there are individual cross overs, this is still happening to a limited and in an ad hoc manner with a continued lack of an integrated framework to address global concerns reflected in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, there is a need to bring together biophysical and social scientists in a combined effort to jointly address concerns of poverty, inequality and climate change. The conference was a contribution to doing this within the South African context, and was intended as an initiating step towards a process of cross over between traditions and disciplines of research. Access the Proceedings Report here
Webinar series: Reduction of Poverty and Inequality post-COVID (2021)
Research has shown that South Africa’s interventions to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while applauded internationally, has had a significant and negative impact on poverty in South Africa. Furthermore, the prevalence of inequality has been highlighted with the poorest and most vulnerable in society being hardest hit. While government has implemented mechanisms to alleviate poverty, the number of people living in poverty has increased since April 2020 concurrent to increased unemployment. Loss of work and limited mobility due to restrictions reducing the ability to generate or obtain income, has resulted in people who are already struggling to put food on the table having to go hungry. Further unintended consequences of the pandemic interventions include delayed healthcare practices and depression.
What can be done to reduce poverty and inequality in South Africa as the country moves from containment to recovery?
The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosts a number of standing committees, tasked with providing strategic direction to the Academy on key issues of strategic national relevance. The Standing Committee on the Science for the Reduction of Poverty and Inequality (SCSfRPI) is one such committee. The committee was mandated by the ASSAf Council to focus on poverty and inequality in respect to the pandemic, and to consult interdisciplinary science in the consideration of how to reduce poverty and inequality.
In response, the SCSfRPI conceptualised a webinar series that delved into the following themes: